Category Archives: Blogging

#CMOSummit: From Sponsorship to Co-Creation for Education and Causes

I almost forgot to post this — here is the third of three sessions I blogged at the recent CMO Thought Leadership Summit here in San Francisco. This post can also be found at This one was another round table.

From Sponsorship to Co-Creation for Education and Causes

  • Matt Yale – Deputy Chief of Staff, US Dept of Education (via Skype)
  • Stefan Weitz – Director, Microsoft, REDU
  • Michelle Kydd-Lee – Exec Dir CAA Foundation (Creative Artists Agency)
  • Moderator: Mark Bonchek – Social Architect

Education is one of the most serious problems facing our country today. Serious enough to move moderator and parent Mark Bonchek to tears. And as Michelle Kydd-Lee responded, “Being emotional is what it is all about.” And thus the question was presented to us: how can a room full of CMOs help Americans understand and respond to the need for teachers? How do we address the drop out rate? Education is a product and people aren’t buying.

Over the next few years we will need 1.6 million teachers to address population growth, replace retiring baby boomers, and fill already empty teaching spots across the country. The greatest need is for African American men, but all kinds of teachers are needed. Without a strong education system the country is in trouble. Even if you don’t like kids and don’t like schools, you should care about the future of the country.

Bing, in the form of REDU, has partnered with the Department of Education to begin to reach people. Michelle and the CAA Foundation is working with them to include celebrities to help raise awareness. But more effort is needed.

As has often been said, doing good is good business. Bing has gotten strong repeat traffic as a result of REDU. Delta partnered with Habitat for Humanity and customer loyalty and employee retention both went up.

The request: What could you, or your organization, do to help make people care? All ideas, suggestions, and participation welcome.


#CMOSummit: A Smarter Strategic Marketing Mix

Here is the second of the three sessions I blogged at the CMO Club. This one was a roundtable discussion. This post can also be found on

CMO Thought Leadership Roundtable: A Smarter Strategic Marketing Mix — Optimizing Across Digital and Traditional Media

  • Kenya Jackson, VP Marketing, Target
  • Terri Graham, CMO, Jack in the Box
  • David Hudson, CEO, NM Incite

Another title for this session might have been: “How do you best integrate social media into your marketing mix” given how much of the discussion focused on effectively leveraging social media. However we also heard from Target’s Kenya Jackson about their marketing mix, which goes beyond traditional and digital media to include signage and product packaging – and may even include sales associates.

Terri Graham kicked off the conversation with a case study from a cross-platform campaign for Jack in the Box. She credits the success of this campaign to the integration of social media from the outset, as well as the focus on “keeping it real.” They don’t tack social media on at the end; it is part of the plan, and part of the ideas, from the beginning.

David Hudson identified the concern that often holds companies back from leveraging social medial: How do we measure it? It’s clear that this is still an evolving field, although they have been able to demonstrate that exposure to sentiment drives purchases.

Target is looking at their mix (including broadcast, circulars, print, web, signage, packaging) from the customer’s point of view, in order to understand what really brings her into the store. And once she is there, what gets her to purchase? Should different departments within the store be presented differently? This would be a significant shift for the retailer. An interesting question was posed: could the store itself be considered social media?

Kenya Jackson considers their team members to be a “media type” – they are each representing the brand every day. Best Buy’s 3000 employees responding on Twitter are another example of the integration of online and offline branding through employee participation.

I found this discussion particularly compelling. For years, the internet was a place apart from real life. It was not particularly interactive, or, well, human. Now, it has developed into a social and engaging place, coming to resemble the real world more and more. And as the web becomes more social, we see that the line between online and offline is blurring. Does social media stop within the computer? I don’t believe the answer to that is clear yet, but the trend is there: we now do online what we do offline. We discuss the news, shop with our friends, share photos. Does the conversation end when we turn off the computer? Of course not.

Marketers have always been trying to sit at the family’s dinner table. Social media may just be the best way to join that conversation.

Guest blogger Sorel Husbands Denholtz often discusses social media at the dinner table and food with her online friends.

#CMOSummit: Don’t compete but change the game

This week I was invited by Ellen Seebold to be a guest blogger at the CMO Thought Leadership Summit, hosted here in San Francisco by The CMO Club. I was fortunate enough to listen in on three very interesting sessions. Below is my blog post from the first of these. It can also be found on

KEYNOTE: Don’t Compete but Change the Game, speaker: Robert Kriegel.

What seemed at first to be a fairly straightforward talk by Robert Kriegel about the critical role of marketing in a world with rapidly changing technology quickly morphed into a whirlwind, astonishing discussion of how to be a winner – and have fun at the same time. Summarizing an hour of rapid-fire ideas and examples into a brief blog post is just about impossible, so I will simply recap highlights and key messages. Imagine everything below presented with fantastic energy and humor, well peppered with anecdotes.

Winners think ahead. Winners break the rules. The companies that win don’t respond quickly to change – they create the change. Think Apple, Cirque de Soleil, Domino’s Pizza. (Really. At one point, the fastest-growing fast-food restaurant.) These ”change-ready organizations:”

  • Constantly challenge the status quo. They don’t cling to old thinking, or “we’ve always done it that way.”
  • Always look for bold, innovative out-of-the-box ideas.

Customers’ needs are always shifting, and winning businesses continuously redefine their role with the customer.

Kriegel identified two major obstacles to innovation and gave us some tools for managing them. The second was predictable: fear. The first, however, may have surprised some: Focusing on working faster and harder. He implored us all to step back from the action to make room for our best ideas. If you are deep in the front lines, you will never get ahead. You need to be able to look at the future, not just what is right in front of you and your business.

To cope with fear, he proposed two simple steps. First, a reality check. Just how likely is that negative outcome? And then remain aware of the big picture while focusing on doing what is manageable. Take small steps. And if it is a bit uncomfortable, embrace that feeling. You are in the “challenge zone.” If it’s comfortable, it’s not new.

He left us with this thought: Everything that applies to work is just as true in daily life. What are the sacred cows in your life? You can end up doing and being more than you ever thought possible. Take risks, break rules, stoke the fires of passion, chase dreams, have a hell of a lot of fun.

I felt inspired at the end of his talk, I have to admit.